Till about three weeks ago, I hadn’t even heard of a “Certificate Of Authenticity“. Definitely not in correlation to artwork or photo prints. But then I had my very first photography exhibition to setup on-ground and suddenly felt quite clueless. Jai, who is a painter and an artist, and someone I’ve known for a while on Twitter, generously gave me a crash course on running an exhibition at 1 a.m., the morning of the exhibition, via Twitter DMs no less. Without my even asking.

One of the things he told me about was the Certificate Of Authenticity and how it was invaluable to include as part of any sale of an artwork. I had fourteen pieces I would be displaying and based on a template Jai shared with me, I modified my own, on my Naina.co letterhead, and within a couple of hours, had created and printed a COA for each of the canvas prints.

Download a Template. Customize it.

To pay it forward, here is the template I used – it’s the most comprehensive one I could come up with, based on additional research I did after the exhibition and after the research I did online for this blog post.

The template below does not have any branding – I printed it on pre-printed Naina.co letterheads, so the branding was on those. But I definitely recommend that you include your branding on your COA as a means of creating a distinctive piece of paper. Make it your own. So that even if more people use the same template, yours looks unique.

Print on good paper stock.

Print it on a good paper stock. It should feel like a piece of paper that needs to be stored safely. My letterheads have a print of my photographs on the other side and are printed on Mohawk’s SuperFine 130 GSM stock. There’s a certain heft to the paper and you can still use it to print additional details using your home/office printer. ( I would’ve liked the feel of recycled paper but the texture makes it hard to predict print quality using a home/office printer. )

Keep envelopes handy for each COA. Once you’ve signed and dated the COA, you can neatly fold it into the envelope and hand it over to the buyer alongwith the art work.

Use unique numbers. Create a numbering system.

I numbered my COAs using the numbering system I use on my invoices. So the COA also acted as a kind of invoice. It is, after all, also specifying the amount of money paid for the artwork. ( Artwork here can mean a photo print, a painting, or even a sculpture. As long as it can be defined and identified – and I highly recommend including a photo. )

You have to physically sign each COA to make sure they have some value. Photocopies are worthless and increase the likelihood of being misused. Use a different color ink for your signature – I used blue. Once you have your COA ready, DO NOT share the original online, EVER. sharing it online with your signature and the exact layout of the certificate opens it up to forgery.

Also include your contact and address details on the Certificate of Authenticity. Ideally your permanent address and maybe even a link to an online page where you’ve written about the artwork – to further establish that this artwork belong to you and that you are the creator.

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Sample Text.

Right click on the above image and save it to your desktop. To make your own, you’ll need a word-editing software – or if you have Adobe Photoshop or Adobe InDesign, you can create a template there. Following is editable text for you to copy-paste :


– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

This document certifies that the artist declares the piece of artwork mentioned
 below, to be an authentic, original and unique piece of art of her/his own creative
efforts and executed by her/him, the undersigned. The artist retains all copyright.
Artwork may not be reproduced in any way or form, without the artist’s consent.

Medium & Edition
Original / Reproduction

<name of artist>
<title of the artwork>
<what is the artwork made of & edition details>
<specify whether original or reproduction>
<height / width / length / weight / depth etc. >
<year the artwork was created>

Ownership of this edition of the above titled artwork, no.
has been transferred to ( NAME )
for the sum of
paid as an advance toward the total price of
on ( DATE )

All information and statements contained herein are true & correct.

Signature of Artist
Place & Date

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –


Here’s a good and short example of another Certificate Of Authenticity on the Saatchi Art website. They have a downloadable PDF as well. All the best for your very first exhibition or display!

Shop my photo prints over at the Naina.co Store!